combing his hair and-zoom!-the brush flew out of his hand and hit the
wall," Koenig recalls. "He was having an epileptic fit. Then he flopped
on the floor and started convulsing. I was stark naked, but I ran out in the
hall and banged on Waite Hoyt's door. I knew he was a coroner's helper. He got
Lazzeri's head up and his tongue out.
had those fits in the morning. That's what finally killed him, you know. He had
one of those fits coming down the stairs and broke his neck."
Hoyt led Yankee
pitchers in 1927 with 22 victories. Wiley Moore, a 30-year-old rookie who both
started and relieved, added 19 wins and led the league with a 2.28 ERA. Herb
Pennock also won 19 games; Urban Shocker, 18. The pin-stripers' pitching staff
was murderous too. Dutch Ruether and George Pipgras combined for another 23
accept the argument that pitchers are harder to hit now because of their
variety of pitches.
have split-fingered fast-balls, but back then they had spitballs, shineballs,
mudballs," he says. "And you never got a nice white ball to hit all the
time. The guys would throw the ball around the infield. They all chewed tobacco
and rubbed the ball up. You don't have that problem today."
The two other
starters were Jumping Joe Dugan, the third baseman who hit .269 and received
his nickname because of his quickness in pouncing on bunts, and catcher Pat
Collins, who played in 89 games and batted .275.
.318 in 1928, his last season as the Yankees' regular shortstop, and New York
made it another World Series sweep, this time over the Cardinals. The following
year, a brash young player with a quick lip, Leo Durocher, played most of the
season at shortstop. Koenig filled in at third base while hitting .292.
In 1930 the
Yankees sold Koenig to Detroit. After two years with the Tigers, and a brief
try at pitching, he was asked to manage in the minors. He said no, and Detroit
sold him to the San Francisco Missions of the Triple A Pacific Coast League. He
was only 28, but he was convinced his big league days were over. Then gunshots
resurrected his career.
Billy Jurges was shot twice by a woman in a hotel room in July 1932. Although
he recovered enough to play 115 games that season, Jurges hit only .253, and
the Cubs were looking for some punch for the pennant drive. They enlisted
Koenig, who joined Chicago when the team was six games out of first. Koenig
went on an offensive tear, hitting .353 over 33 games and sparking new life in
the Cubs, who won the National League championship by four games over
reward was the Yankees. In spite of Koenig's valuable role in September, his
teammates voted him only a half share of the World Series pot. "I thought
it was kind of cheap," he says. So did Babe Ruth.